Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Coffee Cake
by Gluten Free Pantry

After several very rough weeks of morning sickness that have mostly kept me out of the kitchen (and away from pungent aromas of any kind!) I am thrilled to at last feel well enough to re-enter my culinary sphere and begin cooking and blogging again. I received a few fantastic cookbooks for Christmas that I can’t wait to begin experimenting with and adapting for a gluten free lifestyle!

Yesterday evening we attended an absolutely lovely holiday wedding, complete with scarlet bridesmaid gowns, soft white flowers and candles everywhere. For dessert, the guests dined upon what looked to be outrageously delicious red velvet cupcakes... and I thought to my pregnant self, "How I wish I was feasting on a velvety gluten free cupcake!" When we arrived back at home, I scanned our pantry shelves for any tasty and gluten free dessert that could be whipped up with ease and relative speed in order to sate my raging sweet tooth.

Imagine my joy to discover this lovely pre-packaged recipe for a light, crumbly gluten free coffee cake! Gluten Free Pantry makes elegant and affordable dessert mixes that can always be guaranteed to brighten any brunch or dessert, and having loved their blueberry muffins in the past, I felt quite excited to put together the coffee cake as bedtime treat!

Once baked the cake itself was everything one could hope for – sweet, delicious and not heavy at all. For personal reasons I would have loved a Z-sweetened coffee cake, since my body doesn’t love "real sugar" too well. However my husband, a passionate sugar appreciator, has now sampled the cake too and pronounced it fantastic.

While I greatly look forward to creating original tasty and gluten free recipes for my readers over the coming months, I am so happy to share with you great acclaim for this simple to prepare and very satisfying coffee cake.

Coffee Cake by Gluten Free Pantry

What You’ll Need:

Yogurt or Buttermilk
Gluten Free Vanilla
Gluten Free Pantry Coffee Cake Mix

8 inch Spring Form pan

How It Works:

Purchase this wonderful and affordable mix, preheat your oven and you’re on your way! You can put together the entire thing according to the directions on the box in less than ten minutes and enjoy a slice of your warm and crumbly gluten free coffee cake in just an hour! Hurray!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake
"Factory Style"

This wonderful dessert could be called Happy Baby Cheesecake as I first experienced the recipe at a warm and loving baby shower for one of my dear friends. The hostess had kindly worked with her family to create a gluten free version of the same wonderful cheesecake she shared with the other guests, and everyone agreed that the gluten free version was just as tasty as the "regular" one. I felt both honored and overjoyed to be able to celebrate her new baby with this cheesecake.

I have adapted the recipe to my own tastes – e.g. my favorite brand of gluten free cookies (MI-DEL) and Z-sweet instead of regular sugar. I also found that the gluten free crust required more crumbs and butter to create than had the original crust. Ali’s recipe reportedly comes from The Cheesecake Factory, so full credit should be given there for the filling.

Thanks to my extreme (all day) "morning" sickness over the past few weeks, it’s been pretty tough to spend time in the kitchen... sadly for me, since the kitchen is typically my favorite place! The smell and even the thought of food – even delicious gluten free food – hasn’t been kind to me. Even so, it was a total joy to bake this gorgeous cheesecake for our Thanksgiving feast – and to share it with all those people I love the most. I hope your family and friends will enjoy it too! Happy Holidays!

Ali’s Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake, "Factory" Style

What You’ll Need:

2 cups gluten free cookie crumbs
6 – 8 T melted butter

1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups plus 1 T Z-Sweet
3 eight oz pkgs of softened cream cheese
1 t vanilla
½ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t allspice

Whipping Cream

How It Works:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

While the oven is warming, work on putting together your crust. Crush enough gluten free cookies (your favorite kind) to create two cups of cookie crumbs. At our house, we use a mortar and pestle for this process but you can also use a food processor or Cuisinart to blend the cookies into small, even crumbs. Next, combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of Z-sweet in a large bowl. Make sure all crumbs are coated with butter and that the mixture holds together well.

Using a 8 inch Springform pan, press the buttered crumbs onto the bottom of the pan and along the sides as high as they will go, uniformly distributed. This will make a crust that rises approximately 2/3 up the pan. When you have finished this step, place the crust in the oven and bake it for 4 – 5 minutes until it sets. Remove it from the oven and set aside.

With a heavy mixer, combine Z-sweet, cream cheese and vanilla. Blend until it is very smooth and creamy. At this stage, the mixture will still be a bit thick. Next, add the pumpkin, eggs, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep beating, using a scraper to make sure that all of the cream cheese is blended in from the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. The final consistency will be like very thick cream.

Pour all filling into the Springform pan and carefully return it to the oven. Bake for approximately one hour (50 minutes in our oven, which runs hot), until the center of the cake is firm and its top has darkened slightly. Remove from the oven and place your cheesecake on a wire rack to cool.

When the pan is sufficiently cool (room temperature) place it in your refrigerator and allow it to chill before serving, preferably overnight. If you don’t have that kind of time, try to arrange at least 2 – 3 hours of chilling time.

Top with sweetened whipped cream and serve! This is a delicious and extremely rich gluten free holiday treat.

Serves 8 – 10.